By Leah Harper
Collection is a testament to the designer’s ability to challenge gender rules
Mary Quant, the latest major retrospective from the V&A, which opens on Saturday, does not begin and end with the miniskirt. In fact, curators are at pains to point out that Quant did not “invent” the miniskirt – that honour goes to French designer André Courrèges – although she certainly helped popularise it. Instead, the Quant exhibition takes a broader view, charting the first 20 years of the designer’s career from 1955, when she opened her famous Bazaar boutique on King’s Road, to 1975, when she had established a global fashion empire.
“We’re focusing on the social and historical context of that time,” says Stephanie Wood, who co-curated the exhibition alongside Jenny Lister. “[Quant] opened up her shop one year after rationing ended and, in many ways, her playful and colourful designs are a reaction against the austerity and drabness of postwar London.”